February 22, 2011

They Became What They Beheld

I've currently got a large pile of books that I'm working my way through for my dissertation. 
One of those is 'On Being Human' by G. Marian Kinget. As I was reading through it today I found something that I knew I wanted to share.
In a chapter entitled, The Will to Beauty, she talks about anthropologist Edmund Carpenter's They Became What They Beheld (great title!), published in 1970, in which he asked British children the question "What are the twelve loveliest things you know?"

One boy's list went :
The cold of ice cream.
The scrunch of leaves.
The feel of clean cloze. 
Water running into a bath. 
Cold wind on a hot day. 
Climbing up a hill looking down. 
Hot water bottle in bed. 
Honey in your mouth. 
Smell in a drug store. 
Babies smiling. 
The feeling inside when you sing. 
Baby kittens. 

A little girl's answers were: 
Our dog's eyes.
Street lights on the river. 
Wet stones. 
The smell of rain. 
An organ playing. 
Red roofs in trees. 
Smoke rising. 
Rain on your cheeks. 
The smell of cut grass. 
Red velvet. 
The smell of picnic teas. 
The moon in clouds. 

Maybe I'll think about the twelve loveliest things I know and get back to you.
What are the twelve loveliest things you know? 

February 21, 2011

this is a nice thing.

Simple and lovely.
film by Etienne-Jules Marey, a physiologist and chronophotographer.

February 18, 2011

Questions for an artist : Anna Gleeson

I wanted to share a little interview that I was lucky enough to conduct with the artist Anna Gleeson. I discovered her work a few months ago and have ben really inspired by it. I find her work to be thoughtful, well considered and to possess a delicate beauty and playfulness. The questions I asked were in response to her giant paper earrings, but she has a lot of other work that I urge you to check out!

Does paper's fragility and impermanence inform your work? Is that an important part of what you do?

Fragility, yes but permanence/impermanence isn't really something I think about. I like that paper has memory and becomes like a record of everything that happens to it. I think I also just like paper because it's available, it's cheap and there's such variety - colour, surface, feel, how crunchy or silky or stiff it is, how it rolls, what sound it makes, how pronounced the grain is, how thin or thick, how it smells....

Does it influence your design to the point where you feel limitations when working with paper? Or does the challenge bring about new ideas?

Yes! Someone came to the talk in Tokyo and asked me if I liked prism shapes and why, for example, there aren't so many spheres in all those earrings.  I think a lot of the engineering problems I faced making these are a lot of the same problems packaging designers would deal with - how to make a three dimensional object out of a two dimensional material. Once I took a millinery course and the basic pattern-making technique I learnt there informed how I went about making these shapes; by subtraction.
I think limitations are necessary. I'm not sure if the challenge brings about new ideas or if it's just if you have too much to choose from if would take too long. Like if you went out to buy a dress and seriously considered one at a time every dress in every store everywhere....you'de be tired and dressless at the end of the day.
Another limitation I gave myself with this project was that each of the earrings had to be made to suit the ear. The right size but also the same degree of realism as the wooden ear (which doesn't look much like a real ear).

What or who inspires you?

Materials inspire me. Like physically having my hands on materials. I'm really into old craft books; I like the diagrams and the odd projects. Of course the internet is great but lately I like to go to the library and just grab a bunch of books from the shelves, anything that grabs my fancy. Last time I was looking at a book about how to crochet minature gardens, american folk art, how to paint backdrop scenery for the theatre, a book of photographs of jewellers in their studios, the art of tassel making, a lot of 'how to' books I guess. It's pretty funny when everyone else there is quietly studying economics from one book and I'm wildly flicking through a massive stack of any book with pictures.
I listen to a lot of music in the studio. This week I'm addicted to Arthur Russell especially this song
And also by my sister http://www.felicitygleeson.com/  who just has this real flair for making things beautiful. And my friend Nobuko Yamamoto, a book designer who has a really subtle and unexpected way with colour. http://hiroiyomu.blogspot.com/

Do you feel that your cultural surroundings influence you? If so, in what way?

Yep they definitely do. I used to live in a city of neutral colours and textural facades where people are quiet and value slow processes, artisanal crafts, refined designs, quality and expense. And now I live between a jungle and a mall in boom-and-bust-ville where people value speed and convenience and like things that are cheap and throwaway.  I could probably blather on and on about the influence that has on me.... and that would just be the part of it that I'm aware of.
And then as well as that I'm still Australian and although I haven't lived there for 8-or-something years if the sun is in my eyes I still put my hand up against my forehead in just the same way that Australian women do (with the thumb wrapping around to the temple) which is just the same way that a lot of Australian store-fronts have an awning on their foreheads. I notice little things like this. Or my Japanese friends tell me I'm more business-minded than I used to be....there are definitely little shifts but I don't think about it too much I guess.

To see more of Anna's work, have a look at her website and her blog.

February 17, 2011

a wish

My project is all about making wishes and now I'm trying to look further into this concept and ask questions such as: Why do people make wishes?, What feelings do you get when you make a wish?, Why do people so often have an object that to them has a special, lucky sort of power?. 
Wishes are a part of our subconscious. Many of us were exposed to the notion of wishing in fairy tales which used them as plot devices and fables that warned us 'Be careful what you wish for'.  We wish on stars and birthday cakes rarely asking, 'why is this the custom? where did it originate?'
 Is it that we all want to believe in a little bit of magic? I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on this. What special objects do you feel give you a little extra something when you need it? When do you make wishes? How does it make you feel to make a wish? Do you visualise your wish as something tangible? What does your wish look like? 

Here are some things of mine that are special and lucky for me.

February 11, 2011

Born in Japan

Sometimes I think about how strange it is that I was born in Japan and spent six years of my childhood there, speaking Japanese and going to a Japanese kindergarten. The reason I use the word strange is  because although I return to Japan often to visit my father, I feel a sort of disconnect to that time. Mostly because I can no longer speak Japanese, so now when I go back I feel like an outsider, whereas the childhood me was able to communicate and be a part of everything. When I remember playing with friends or going to school there is no verbal memory because the me of today cannot understand the Japanese that was spoken to the me of back then. Does that make sense? See, very strange. Looking back at photos from that time there it's funny to me how Japanese my childhood looks and how much it changed when I left and moved to the United States. But the culture and my experiences there still influence me heavily today, and that is why I think my final major project this year ended up being inspired by all the things I absorbed as a little girl living in Japan. 

Wearing a kimono on Girls Day, aged 4

my brother wearing a kyonshi (terrifying hopping vampire) mask on his head

My brother wearing a Kappa mask and feet

My brother and I ringing the bells at the jinja (temple) we lived next to.

my name in Japanese

February 7, 2011


this is weird. right after I posted about the 1001 books you must read, my total page view count reached 1001. spoooky! 

wild horses

I love going to the New Forest and seeing the horses wandering around freely. 

February 6, 2011

organise the mind

my desk was out of control messy and beginning to stress me out so I decided I had to organise it. fun.



usually, when I attempt to organise anything I am sidetracked by things I had forgotten I had (because I am so disorganised) and then find, which demand my attention there and then. It was nice to find some old drawings from years gone by and be able to look at them a little more objectively and feel a little bit good about my work. you see, I have a tendency to get a little bit 'Cameron Frye'  in my attitude towards my work..my self etc and so it's always good to have a break from that! 

oh, and I found a photo from '94 of my old dog Beau as a little pup thing! 

February 4, 2011


sorry about the narrowness of the video, my mistake. it's best if you watch it full screen. 

Happy Chinese New Year!
Normally, living above a Chinese restaurant has little to no impact on our lives, except for those late nights when the waiters play awful music really loudly whilst cleaning up. Usually to one song on repeat from some obscure and unsuccessful Whitney Houston album. 
Anyway, the one day a year when its great to live above this restaurant is on Chinese New Year because they have a little dancing dragon right outside our window!
I'm really looking forward to the year ahead especially as I was born in the year of the rabbit.
What are your Chinese Zodiac signs? Do you know what is predicted for you in the year of the rabbit? I'd be interested to hear!

Here's to an adorable year!

February 1, 2011

curse of the lazy

I have a problem with getting things done. 
think a lot about what I need to do, and am aware of everything on the 'to do list' in my mind but instead of just DOING I spend a lot of the time THINKING. Then I get overwhelmed with everything I have to do, to the point of inaction because it seems that even tackling one thing won't really help because there is just so much still left to do! I get frustrated knowing that the quality of the work I produce is entirely in my hands which are capable, but I don't put the required effort in. It really is a curse - a lazy curse. I guess what I need to do is think of one thing I need to do at a time... I would write a list but I hate lists. Unless it's a list of what to buy at the supermarket. It's hard to be creative and organised. At least for me. Does anyone else struggle with this too? Or are you a reformed lazy person and have some tips on being more productive? 
And sometimes, instead of doing the work I need to be doing, I do pen & ink drawings of cats and bears. I guess something is better than nothing!